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How Gratitude Helps Us Heal


Many families who observe Thanksgiving this November often start the meal with a prayer or blessing. A growing tradition is to go around the table so that each person can share about something (or someone) for which they are grateful. Keep reading for more ideas on expressing thanks (great for any family get-together, not just Thanksgiving!) and a free gratitude download to print and share.  

Gratitude Is Good for You

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who practice gratitude enjoy “significant benefits” to their physical and emotional well-being. An Indiana University research program found that people in mental health counseling improved their outlook and emotional health after completing written gratitude exercises.


Gratitude and Grief

When you lose a loved one, it might seem impossible to find anything to feel grateful about. The sorrow, anger, and other negative emotions that engulf you after losing a loved one are the antithesis of gratitude. 

As time passes, practicing gratitude is easier. Perhaps you’re grateful for neighbors who brought you nourishing food or a caregiver who ensured your loved one was comfortable and pain-free. Gratitude helps heal your grief and allows you to reflect on the positive experiences before, during, and after your loved one's passing. 

Put It In Writing

The Indiana University researchers also found that individuals who wrote a letter of gratitude every week for three weeks enjoyed better mental health up to 12 weeks after the study ended. Making a gratitude list on paper stimulates a healthier, more relaxed response in most people. 

You can use your phone, tablet, or computer to type a daily gratitude journal, but some people find that writing by hand is a more holistic experience. The feeling of your hand on the paper and the pressure of holding a pen or pencil are sensory inputs that can deepen the benefits of gratitude exercises. 

Here are some ideas for practicing gratitude that could help ease your pain while grieving a loved one.

Start Small

“Just One Little Thing” is a Facebook support group created by a mom who lost her son. As the name implies, the concept is to help grieving people find something to be grateful for, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.

Remember Your A, B, Cs

Use the alphabet to help you list things you are grateful about, starting with the letter A. Don’t worry about finding something for all 26 letters; do the best you can. (For example, I’m grateful for the airplane that brought my sister safely home.)

Be Thankful for You

You’ve endured a tremendous physical and emotional shock. Acknowledge your ability to make it through a difficult time. Be kind to yourself. 

Express Your Gratitude

Share your gratitude with loved ones and encourage them to do the same with this gratitude worksheet. Just download, print, cut along the dotted lines, and put them at each person’s place at your next family dinner. Don’t forget to add a pen! Give family members time to write down three things they are thankful for, then read them aloud or pass them around. 

Do a Favor

Keeping a list or journal isn’t the only way to reap gratitude's benefits. Return a neighbor’s casserole dish with a home-cooked meal of your own or with a note inviting them for coffee in the future. Taking a moment to show or share your appreciation for someone’s kindness makes you feel good. 

We’re Grateful for You

At Tulip, we’re committed to helping families deal with the loss of a loved one by offering the simplest direct cremation arrangements available. We are grateful for the chance to serve you with five-star service at affordable prices. Whether you need help with a loved one’s passing or want to plan ahead, our family care team is here for you 24/7.

To learn how to help others heal alongside you, take a look at our article: 7 Kind Gestures to Support Your Spouse When Their Parent Passes Away.